Using the right environmental indicators: Tracking progress, raising awareness and supporting analysis

Nordic perspectives on indicators, statistics and accounts for managing the environment and the pressures from economic activities

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Finding and using indicators that are most suited for tracking progress, raising awareness and supporting analysis is a challenge. Indicators need to be used in appropriate contexts and should ideally be fit-for-purpose. For example, indicators which are best used for awareness-raising cannot be used for monitoring policy goals. This report presents a short review of different indicators typically encountered by environmental policy makers. General advice is provided regarding their uses. In the second part of the report, an overview of the environmental-economic accounting work of the Nordic statistical institutes is presented. Lessons learned from the development of these accounts as well as ideas for future work are described. These types of environmental accounts provide a framework for developing information about the connections between the economy and the environment. The study was commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers and conducted by the national statistical agencies in the Nordic countries, led by Statistics Norway and Statistics Sweden.




The production of environmental information in countries is often a puzzle with many different pieces found in various Ministries, agencies and institutions involved in the development and publication of data, statistics and indicators. Making sense of this information and keeping track of who is doing what can be a complex task. Figuring out what information is needed and when to use which type of indicator can also be a challenge. The main focus of this report is on indicators related to the environment and some sustainable development indicators since these indicators include an environmental perspective. This report does not attempt to be exhaustive but tries to include many of the most commonly encountered indicators by environmental policy makers. In addition to describing the different types of indicators, some evaluation and guidance regarding the use of indicators will be given.


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